Now, where would anyone get the strange idea that a deal signed and sealed could be renegotiated? Why from the very same Mayor and council that asked to renegotiate the signed and sealed deal concerning the parking near the lighthouse at Port Dalhousie!
However when the volunteers from the ‘Winners Circle’ suggest renegotiation, Bethlehem Place spokesman, Mr. Tom Richardson {former city solicitor} ridiculed the idea, going so far as to question the character of Downtown Business folk, asking if this is the way they do business by breaking legal contracts.
Would Mr. Richardson have ridiculed the Mayor and Council for wanting to renegotiate their contract with the Port Dalhousie Marina? The Port Dalhousie Marina contract was satisfactorily renegotiated that very same evening with all participants strategically and tactfully working to find a better solution to the benefit of all concerned. It was categorized as bargaining in good faith!
Then it really got nasty. Mrs. Richardson accused those who failed to fall in line with the wants of Bethlehem Place as people against the poor and of diminishing the value of people predicated on their financial standing.
Councilor Stevens accused our volunteers of portraying poor children of being, "Dark Miserable little Children"
Councilor Erskine proclaimed her view that, "Business people should smarten up and pay people decently"
Click here for example of Policy Failure!

Councilor Disher lamented that she, "Really resents our Downtown being called a Ghetto!" and that she "Really resents people having a prejudice, which, as she says, "means to pre judge different people"
After carefully describing his efforts to find a suitable low-rental housing site only in the downtown core, the Mayor rambled off a litany of various subsidized residential housing {over 500} in our Downtown core, ending with a quaint refrain that our presenters were somehow against subsidized housing for senior citizens.

We would like to point out that the proponents of assisted housing are the only ones that continually spout off about STIGMA attached to assisted living. Their shrill cry is simply an attempt to discredit honest concerns—concerns like the $100+K cost per scimpy apartment units {$4.5million for forty units not including property}—citizens concerns like dumping dozens of children into the midst of some of our St. Paul St. unique and marginal characters that will be delighted to educate them—or the concerns of the Winners Circle, a group struggling for the strategic and financial welfare of downtown St. Catharines.
The concentration of assisted living {over 500} in the downtown core of St. Catharines raises some very interesting questions. Is the sentiment of NIMBY {not in my back yard} in play? Is that the reason that proponents for downtown concentration are so ready to raise the hate card?
Where is the concern for those in need? Where is the concern for downtown St. Catharines? Surely, with a modicum of clever strategic planning, both concerns could be realized and enhanced!
How can the simple warehousing of people, wherever convenient, with no concern for what’s best for the neighborhood, be transposed into "SMART GROWTH" or "STRATEGIC PLANNING"?
Could it be that the proponents, of haphazard warehousing of people, are more concerned with their ever expanding empire than they are with "SMART GROWTH” or "STRATEGIC PLANNING" or, more importantly, genuine concern for our “neighbours in need”?

The mayor went on to exclaim, "What the problem is, is the quality of the residence that are being built and are being rented out to people by the private sector and we have got to change that!"
Change what Mr. Mayor? Have you forgotten what these private sector risk takers had to work with? Dozens of unsubsidized apartments created in unwanted buildings that had fallen into such dismal conditions that they precluded any hope of obtaining a mortgage.
Since there are 2000 families on a waiting list, and only 24 families per 40 apartment unit, is the Mayor suggesting that the taxpayer should be prepared to foot the bill for 76 more 40-unit apartment buildings similar to the current proposal? Is the Mayor suggesting that he would be willing to hit the taxpayer with a bill that could reach $350 million?

As if all this dastardly rhetoric wasn't enough, The St. Catharines Standard {Newspaper} somehow managed to construe or misconstrue the presenter's honest attempts to redress the matter of location as, "downtown property owners who slammed the affordable housing project".
Making matters worse the Standard repeated this interesting twist of journalism under the heading, 'news in review'.
Is THE STANDARD bent on stifling descent.

The volunteers of the Winners Circle entered the council chamber with an honest and valid point of view. In fact the volunteers of the Winners Circle were the only presenters, whose only interest in the location of the Bethlehem project in question, was and is the financial welfare of the Downtown Core of St. Catharines and the only presenters that exhibited concern for the children involved.
Even the City's BIA{Business Improvement Area}, known as the Downtown Association, clearly stated that there was a better use of the 151 James Street property.
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism says there is a more strategic use for the property.
Many thoughtful individuals and groups have expressed concern over the strategic loss of this prime property.
Only those unable to understand the strategy of location find it hard to understand and are only able to equate strategy with being against assisted living.

Honest concern and effort on behalf of the Downtown core of our city deserves more than a sordid conspiracy of silence {not one question} accompanied by inaccurate and derogatory rhetoric aimed at discrediting our volunteers. 
Perhaps the actual Winners Circle presentations on the right can speak for themselves… 
You can judge for yourself whether or not the location of this Bethlehem Place low-rent apartment project will help Bethlehem Place as much as the sacrifice of this particular location will impede advancement in our Downtown.

St. Catharines Deserves Better!
Welcome to Winners Circle News
...Now for the Rest of the Story
Somehow the volunteers of the Winners Circle came to the realization that the good work of Bethlehem Place can be conducted in a number and variety of locations better suited for their purpose and in a better neighborhood for the children of less fortunate families.
Those same volunteers came to believe that successful condominiums filled with vested interest owners, promoting a successful downtown, was also a way to mitigate the plight of less fortunate families and their children.
Hence the old adage that rising tides raise all boats.
Location! Location! Location!
The Bethlehem Place Location Fiasco
On Monday July 4, 2005, two volunteers of the Downtown advocacy group known as the 'Winners Circle' made a last ditch effort to convince the players involved to do something that to date they had failed to do.
Mr. Bob Shannon and Mr. Preston Haskell desperately tried to coerce the officials in charge to work together, tactfully, strategically, thoughtfully toward a better use of the property known as 151 James Street.
We heard Miss Karen Drake, Manager of Niagara Regional Housing, carefully explain the benefits of subsidized rental apartments like the 57 unit low-rental housing complex that is supporting and advancing the cause of downtown Welland, Ontario.
At no time did our volunteers slam this or any other affordable housing project.
In fact, as is revealed in their presentations, the Winners Circle is a strong supporter of Bethlehem Place, as we know it.
The thrust of our interest in this matter is, or was, with the location of this particular project and the logic behind it.
Mr. Shannon’s presentation before council
We’re not here to insult you or degrade you. We just don’t understand why you don’t understand the situation with our downtown and the problems it’s facing.
In the month of June this year, our companies have experienced 6 criminal acts – 3 vandalisms, 2 B&E’s and 1 assault – and that is not an exception, this is the norm. In fact, since January 1, 2003, we have suffered over $175,000.00 in damages that we cannot claim on our insurance. Let me say that I am not alone. Our losses are great because of our number of properties. On a per capita basis, we are all the same in our downtown both residentially and commercially.
Folks, in a survey done by the NRP, 59.8% of our citizens don’t feel safe in our downtown and won’t go there after dark.
And what is our solution? Let’s put low-income housing there so the unfortunate can learn the trade of crime from the professionals.
Then, when we are all working to end the state of decline in our downtown, what do you do? You take one of the last prime downtown properties and give it to a non-profit group who will generate little if any tax revenue for our city instead of selling it to a developer who will build a tax-paying project that will contribute to the tax base of our city and benefit our downtown.
Am I opposed to Bethlehem Place and low-rental housing? Of course not! But, there is a place for everything. The people you are putting into these units don’t need drug dealers, thieves, vandals, prostitutes, methadone clinics, drug rehabs and the rest of this stuff at their front door. They need a grocery store, a baseball field, a place for kids to play with other kids, a place that affords them an opportunity to succeed with people who are successful, not a place to learn how to be a hooker or a drug dealer.
We don’t want to ghettoize our social ills in our downtown; we want to put them where they belong, where all people will benefit, where we can create an atmosphere for all of our citizens to succeed and live peacefully.
Property values in our downtown are extremely low because we don’t have a plan. Our downtown has been declining for years. Why would you want to make it worse especially when so many people are working hard to make it better?
We now have a cop on the beat, there is a historical walking tour, two-way traffic looks like it’s coming, which could bring 850,000 tourists. There are a number of committees working on our downtown and they are showing results.
Folks, let’s develop a win-win situation here. Lets put this low-income development where the people living there can live in a peaceful and secure environment where they can learn and be successful while at the same time we build a strong tax base and a strong downtown – a downtown to be proud of that our kids – all kids – will inherit.

   Location! Location! Location!
Condominiums cannot directly add value to our
Downtown core if forced to be placed elsewhere.
Still under construction
Mr. Haskell's Presentation before Council
*The Council session of May 2, 2005 produced ample evidence that St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, is caught up in a confluence of seamy political, financial, and bureaucratic dysfunction. *For the rest of the story click here...
It’s as if there is an amorphous... almost spontaneous conspiracy of ineffective thought that is producing a stagnating effect in our community.
This hypothesis is predicated on, visual evidence, budget consequence, financial abuse, and measurable effects**.

I’m here to address the subject of social assistance…
Although rapidly increasing and distressing levels of social assistance are upon us, the good citizens of St. Catharines are more than willing to step up to the plate and do the right thing.
However, it is not so clear that the players involved are honest brokers in the solution.
At no time in this whole long debate has any citizen of St. Catharines even suggested opposition to assisted living, or low rental housing, even though some have suggested otherwise.
The admirable desire to assist families in need should not preclude unemotional analytic and exploratory ways best suited to all facets of this or any other situation.
It’s called strategy!  It is known as Strategy!
During this whole long debate regarding the placement of the low-rent housing in question, one extremely important... surely the most important element, has not been properly addressed. 
I started by stating that St. Catharines seems to be caught up in a confluence of seamy political, financial, and bureaucratic dysfunction. The downtown core of our city appears to be the foremost recipient of this confluence.
Our respective municipal leaders have managed to load our downtown core with an overabundance of social ills.
Cocaine crack houses, drug dealers, drug induced violence, alcoholics, drunks, pimps, prostitutes (both male & female), practicing criminals, vandals, muggers, and nare-do-wells of every description. Now these same leaders use the services for these same ills as an excuse to exasperate the situation in our downtown core.
The question is this:
Why would an honest broker favour placing the children of forty less fortunate families into this deleterious mix?
Further, why would an honest broker favour this obsession knowing that there is a more resourceful use of the property in question... a tactical use that would advance the fortunes of our beleaguered downtown... a strategic use that could very well make some positive difference in the lives of those on social assistance? Who do you care for?
Our growing social assistance is largely the product of knee jerk reaction, failed policies, and a prime indicator of the dearth of effective and calculated thought that I first mentioned.

Only economic success can alleviate the plight of the less fortunate.
Only economic success can mitigate the growing need for social assistance.
For all those involved basking in satisfaction that you have brashly, but tactlessly, warehoused needy families clearly demonstrates that you are failing those who need you. You have failed those who pay you. You have also failed yourselves.
Surely it would be a better use of mind if all involved, including the leaders of Bethlehem Place, would stop this egocentric folly, and work together… strategically… on behalf of our city, on behalf of our less fortunate families and more importantly, on behalf of our children.